Graham Riddell is a specialist freelance photographer at Graham Riddell Photography in the Scottish Borders, offering a stunning collection of nature-themed Wall Art & Stock images. Call 0777 764 5813. Commissions also welcomed for Portrait Photography, Event Photography, Corporate Photography, Publishing and PR and photography lessons.
20201119__MG_0022_7D2Lesley and Jacquie from the Scottish Borders
The water is deceptively cold at this time of year, around 4° on a chilly morning in early November 2020 and from the warm comfort of the car, looked so inviting and beautiful, yet you would definitely think twice about going for a dip!
Water that cold can be extremely dangerous to the unwary and will definitely steal your breath away and numb you to your core. So why do it?
For these two lovely ladies, it's a weekly routine all year round. For them it is more than a challenge. It has become a way of life. Jacquie has been doing this since she was a youngster when as a child she swam in fresh water rivers as she couldn't afford to go to the local swimming pool. Her friend and fellow swimmer Lesley, only took cold water swimming up recently following a dark period of ill-health and the accumulating pressures of living a challenging, 'full-on' existence for several years, both in her personal and business life, then along came the added impact of Covid-19 and lockdown.
20201119__MG_0011_7D2Entering the Loch of the Lowes
Having embarked on a photography tour around my favourite places here in the Scottish Borders, during one of the rare sunnier days during a prolonged bout of miserable cloud and rain lasting several weeks through October, I had snapped them as they were just entering the water at the Loch of the Lowes, a favourite picnic spot on the tortuous A708 road between Moffat and Selkirk at St Mary's Loch where I had stopped to take in the view.
I decided to make something more of this opportunity and so rather than simply taking the shot and moving on, I felt compelled to take a few more and perhaps, if the chance arose, even speak to them.
As I watched their progress into the cold depths, I was impressed with their composure. Not the breathless yelps, gasping to catch their breath, but a measured calm and happy delight, like dolphins, gracefully at home in their weightless world. Soon they were returning back towards shore after 'acclimatising' to their bone-chilling aquatic environment. This was my opportunity and so I asked them how it was.
"Great" and "very refreshing" without a single expletive being uttered!
20201119__MG_0027_7D2Swimming in the Loch of the Lowes
I feel that if I am taking your picture without your consent then it is only right I explain why and so revealed that I was in fact a professional photographer and would they mind me taking a few more shots of them which they readily agreed to. From this encounter I learned a little more about their reasons for taking these weekly icy dips and how much healthier they both have felt through the pandemic. It seems to be a kind of drug this cold water swimming thing, that creates a need to those who indulge themselves in it, perhaps even a craving. For them though, it s a very genuine therapy against life's darker stimuli and influences.
Rather than disturbing the intrepid duo any further, I gave them my card and said I would post the pictures online through my Facebook page where they could see and also copy them, which I subsequently did on my return home later in the day.
These girls were an inspiration to me and were happy to pose for a quick trophy photo before heading back into the chilly depths one last time which was where I left them, bathing in the late morning sunshine, impressing upon me their sheer joy of life.
Surly that's the lesson here. Life is to be celebrated, fully and unashamedly!